It is hard not to notice Gallery Forty One in Kirkstall – it sticks out like a sore thumb as a warm retreat next to the busy junction it overlooks, one this reviewer usually associates with commuting hell.
So going by on the bus everyday, it’s only a matter of time until you’re lured in by the twinkly lights and touch of class suggested from outside. The menu isn’t exactly a repellent either.
With few other restaurants nearby, this Mediterranean establishment does have the advantage of a relatively captive customer base. Yet it won this paper’s Oliver Award for Best Suburban Restaurant in 2015 – it cries out ‘family favourite’.
We sit in the cosy-looking conservatory which is decorated with fairy lights and has a comfortable soft seating area from which to dine and watch the world go by. Though struggling for atmosphere earlier on in the meal, the restaurant nevertheless boasts an ambience out of kilter with the endless double-deckers whizzing passed outside. The place does feel really redolent of The Med inside with the low lighting, flamenco-style music, paintings hung up and the patter of amiable chat.
We decide to try the three-course early bird menu for £14.95 each. This is available between Tuesday and Thursday and includes the full range of its pizza and pasta dishes.
I start with pate on crusty bread, served with a segment of orange on top and some salad. Though the pate has a nice flavour, the fruit is not at its sweetest. But my fellow diner’s bruschetta is reportedly lovely, with big tomato chunks that are well-seasoned and tossed in high quality oil.
For the main, I go for the Rustica Picante pizza, which includes tomato, mozzarella, pepperoni, pancetta and fresh chillies. On arrival it was an inviting mix of gold, red and brown in colour, and had a taste which was true to its name – comforting with a spice that was not too fierce.
My friend’s Tortelli con Funghi - pasta parcels filled with mushrooms, ricotta cheese and garlic sautéed with mushrooms in a cream sauce – looks as though it boasts a pleasing European disregard for fat content guidelines. I’m told the generous portion had a beautiful rich, yet fresh, flavour with a good mix of mushrooms, though became too heavy towards the end.
We both go for the lovely chocolate fudge cake and ice cream for dessert. A bottle of San Miguel (£3.10) and Pinot Grigio white wine (£5.25) also help things along.
Despite being in the conservatory, we’re never forgotten about by the attentive staff who are polite and helpful throughout.
Suburban Leeds is quite right to love this inviting little gem of a restaurant.